Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Thanksgiving Foods :)

I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. I have been enjoying celebrating this holiday with my music groups.  I have created a "Sound of Music" themed Thanksgiving set of songs and we enjoy singing them. Here is our favorite song and feel free to sing at your table!

My Thanksgiving Foods (to the tune of, "My Favorite Things":

Turkey and dressing
And yams and potatoes
Gravy and biscuits and fresh stewed tomatoes
Crimson red cranberries sure beat the blues
These are a few of my Thanksgiving foods

Creamed spinach soufflé and bacon with green beans
Broccoli, steamed carrots and let’s have more protein
Virginia ham for the rest of the brood
These are a few of my Thanksgiving foods

Corn in cheese sauces with paprika spices
Casseroles brimming with wild brown rices
Silvery champagne could bring some new moods
These are a few of my Thanksgiving foods

When the pie burns
When the cake flops
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my Thanksgiving foods 
And then I don't feel so bad

Monday, November 5, 2018

Lord, I'm 500 miles away from home

Today at the hospital I was just about to go play for a patient in ICU. A nurse warned me, “He might say something mean to you.” ( He was agitated)

When I came into view, the man started waving eagerly for me to come in.
Seeing my guitar in hand, he asked, “Will you play me a song?” I nodded. He asked me to play an old folk song, “500 Miles.”

“If you miss the train I’m on
You will know that I am gone
Lord I’m 500 miles away from home...”

I was touched that he wanted that sad song. He just sang that same verse over and over .
I don’t often get requests for certain songs but when I do, they are all about being home.
I was glad the song brought him comfort.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Full circle returning to rhythm

This summer was an interesting one when I rented an alto saxophone and studied it for three months. I got inspired to try a new band instrument after seeing a band from the local senior center play. There were about 12 saxophones and I thought it would be fun to try it.  Well, it was interesting but it did not "take" for me. Seemed that once I got to a certain level, a new and bigger challenge would emerge.  For instance, when I worked on learning to play, "Over the Rainbow," I found it hard because the melody flows slowly and without a break. For a wind player, that means having to have a lot of breath control to play a long flowing series of notes without stopping to take a breath.

I loved the novelty that opened opportunities for musical growth for me. However, I came to see that practicing alone in my living room was not what I had in mind. I realized it would take me months to be good enough to join an ensemble. So this led me back to where I started 45 years ago playing percussion in high school band! Somehow I didn't think I'd end up here but here I am.

I have joined a beginners wind band ensemble at our senior center in town and last week was our first rehearsal. I loved the challenge of it and it was a lot of fun to me. I knew I'd make mistakes and the conductor had a lot to say regarding my tendency to rush the tempo or to tense up. "Relax, slow down. " Sound familiar? It's not that I feel I have trouble slowing down but it's true when in a new experience, I do tend to get a little tense. I am enjoying practicing slowing down and relaxing back into being a drummer again. It is something I never forgot and holding those sticks in my hand and playing with the recordings on YouTube.  It's going to be fun. We're practicing for our concert in December.

I once said to myself, "The secret to being a master is the willingness to be a beginner over and over again. " I find that is true. I love to read music and to be challenged.

What's on your music stand these days?

Friday, July 13, 2018

The gift of music

The last time here, I told you about my meeting a new friend at a nursing home who gave me a pretty shirt? I visited her yesterday and she again opened her closet and insisted I take this shirt pictured here. I brought her three old songbooks I was not using and figured it made a good trade.

 She was delighted with the songbooks and went up and down the hall showing all of her friends. There was a Lennon & McCartney Collection and 2 Greatest Hits of the 60s and 70s. I was not surprised when we took them to the piano and she was able to play many of the songs on the fly. They were not easy songs! We had fun playing and singing together for the other residents. I wonder what our next visit will bring?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

An unexpected gift

Today I paid a musical visit to a local assisted living center. When I walked in the door, I was greeted by a woman who was playing the piano. She asked me if I was going to play too and I said we could play together. She liked this idea but the only songbook she had was a Christmas book. 

We played "Silent Night" and our best was, "What Child is This." She did not seem to notice they were Christmas songs and no one else seemed to mind either  Then she invited me to come and see her room. I was impressed when I saw she had decorated her tiny room with coloring pages she had done. Her room was tidy and very charming. 

We sat and visited awhile and at one point she asked me if I'd like to see her clothes. When she opened her closet, there was nothing in it except for about two dozen blouses hanging on the rack. (no clutter or possessions on the floor) When I complimented a pretty blue and yellow sun and moon shirt (pictured above), she took it out and said, "You can have it!" I tried to tell her that I could not take something from her but she insisted. I was so touched by this woman who had so little and wanted to give me something. It sure brightened my day to meet her!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me?

I work on weekends at a nursing home in town and bring my guitar and go room to room to sing. I am always richly rewarded by the responses I get. There is a resident who is severely disabled and bedridden. All of the times I have been in her room, she was hooked up to a ventilator and not conscious. So I was surprised today when I went to her room and she was awake.

 As I got out my guitar, I saw she moved to try to turn the TV off. She appears paralyzed or at least extremely limited mobility. I asked her If she wanted me to turn the TV off and she mouthed the word, "please." She is unable to talk as she has a trachea in her throat. When I started to play my guitar, she watched me with a curious expression. I was trying to find a song that she would connect with. Since she is black, I sang some spirituals but she did not appear to recognize them. I guessed her age to be early 60s but none of the songs of that era seemed to strike a chord. So I looked around her room to gain clues about what kind of songs would resonate. Sometimes residents have a Bible or a picture of Jesus or Mary and that helps me to know they would like hymns. In her room, she was surrounded by Mickey Mouse things. She had a Mickey Mouse clock on the wall and was covered with a Mickey Mouse blanket. On the floor next to her bed, I found a Minnie Mouse doll.  I picked up Minnie Mouse and asked her if she wanted her in the bed with her. She nodded yes. Then I got the idea, judging by her facial expressions that she probably had some brain damage or developmental disability.  I got the inspiration to start talking to her through Minnie Mouse. I made my voice like Minnie's and I sang to her the Mickey Mouse TV theme song. 

"Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!"  

She smiled and brightened with this! I saw I was onto to something. I kept singing and talking to her with Minnie in my hand and even had Minnie do a little dance for her. When it was time to go, I put Minnie into her arms and she held out her hand and I took her hand in both of mine and thanked her for letting me come and visit her. I told her I really enjoyed singing with her. We stayed holding hands for awhile. I was so moved by this experience! I have worked there nearly a year and never knew she could communicate at all. I will make sure I go see her all the time now.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

We've Got the Whole Earth in Our Hands

Today I enjoyed teaching nature themed songs at Wildrock nature center in Crozet. This is a great place way out beyond the town where there is not even reception on your cell phone.  Good to feel off the grid for awhile and play outside. This place has lots of play areas indoors too for kids to explore. They have educational areas to teach about animal life in the wilderness and a botanical area, camping gear to on display, magical forests. Outside you can hike to the stream or walk the labyrinth or play and dance on the stage or go fishing. There are lots of animals around too. Sheep, horses, cows, frogs, fox, deer and probably bears out there too.

There were groups of 1st and 2nd graders that came on a field trip there and I taught them some of my favorite Native America songs. How about:

"The Earth is our mother, we must take care of her 2x
Hey yanna, ho yanna, hey yon yon..."

Or from the Lakota tribe:

"I am one with the infinite sun
forever and ever and ever
keyo teh leno leno maho teh
heino heino heino."

We talked about caring for the environment and things we could do to help. Things like reusing things instead of throwing away and recycling.

I sang them some songs about recycling:

"We've been working on recycling (to the tune of "I've Been Workin on the Railroad"
all the trash we can
we've been working on recycling
it's a very simple plan..." etc.

We then talked about camping out and being out in nature and singing campfire songs. The children taught me some new ones and I taught them some of our old ones we sang as a child. Songs like, "Old MacDonald," and "Bingo."

It was a fun time!